Reliable Remote Access For A Retailer?

Just joined the IPVM, what a great community you have!

We have retail stores in several cities and we are looking for reliable remote surveillance solution. I have read that Axis/ACC is unstable, cloud AVHS has not been very successful, Port Forwarding is difficult and uPNP is unstable etc and the list goes on :)

We'd prefer not to have NVRs at each location, because we don't have IT support available and the stores are wide-spread throughout the country.

What is the best remote access solution in your opinion?


Welcome A!

  1. Is this a system that does not need to be accessed locally at the store?
  2. How much available WAN bandwidth will/do you have between corporate and the stores?
  3. Is there a wired ethernet infrastructure already in place in the stores?
  4. Roughly how many cameras do you anticipate being deployed in each store?
  5. Are you planning on any cash register integration, or analytics, like people counting/traffic analysis?

1. Is this a system that does not need to be accessed locally at the store?

No, only at our head office

2. How much available WAN bandwidth will/do you have between corporate and the stores?

We don't have a WAN network set up, but we have high speed Internet (At least 10mbs/10mbs at each location)

3. Is there a wired ethernet infrastructure already in place in the stores?

Yes

4. Roughly how many cameras do you anticipate being deployed in each store?

3-5 cameras / store

5. Are you planning on any cash register integration, or analytics, like people counting/traffic analysis?

No

Thanks. Just a few more questions, if you don't mind.

  1. How many stores?
  2. Is the system to be used/monitored daily, or just on exception?
  3. If using the system daily, how much of the use will be for: Viewing Live, Reviewing Footage, Exporting Clips?
  4. How many simultaneous viewing clients?
  5. Is multi-camera synchronized playback a requirement?
  6. What is your video retention period requirement?

A, welcome to IPVM!

Two general thoughts to start:

Recording Centrally

From what you described so far (3-5 cameras per location, 10Mb/s+ upstream), it could be feasible to record centrally.

A few things to confirm:

  • Does your telecommunications provider have any issue / rules / restrictions on this type of continuous bandwidth load? Some do.
  • What resolution / frame rate / etc. do you plan to use? This is getting at per camera bandwidth?
  • How much bandwidth do you need for your other services? i.e., what is the risk that the video upstreaming might delay / block transactions or other business processes.

Reliable Remote Access

You mentioned most of the remote access options but how about a VPN? Presumably you are going to have a VPN in place anyway to connect to stores to a central site anyway? If so, that would be the most direct / straightforward / reliable solution.

Personally, I don't think centralized recording in feasible. You're putting too much faith in the continuous availability of your Internet connection. Every time there is an issue (slow credit card verifications, slow POS, etc.) everyone is going to want to blame the camera system first. Since you don't have an IT department, I think you're setting yourself up for trouble.

Port forwarding is not difficult really, it's the standard approach used almost everywhere. You could save yourself a little hassle by setting up a simple VPN server at your HQ and a VPN router at each remote site, but even that isn't really neccessary.

IMO your best approach is an NVR appliance at each location. There are options available from all the "big names" as well as some better DIY options. I'll refrain from recommending anything specific out of personal bias ;)

One question that I didn't see anyone else ask... What do you want to *see* with this system? Store overview? Ability to see details of currency at the POS stations? Something else? Will all the cameras be in the store or are any going to be mounted outside covering rear doors, dumpsters, etc.?

Hi A, I agree with C in that remote recording is probably more problematic for you than an on-site appliance with remote access. Since you do not have IT staff on-site, you will not be as quick to respond to network outages--which will not only blind you from remote access but also prevent recording during that time. Whereas, an on-site appliance designed for low maintenance, would continue to record even if there was a network outage.

You happen to list several requirements for which our system (MultiSight) was designed. Those are a low-on site management footprint, simple on-site network requirements, remote access, and geographically distributed management. Another option would be a service such as Envysion which also includes various retail-specific features that you might find useful in addition to remote access.